County buys old Chase Bank drive-thru lot

The Washington County Commissioners agreed on Thursday to enter into a contract with Chase Bank to purchase property at 311 Third St. for $210,000.

The drive-thru property has been sitting empty with just a usable ATM since September 2016.

“Once this is closed and done, we’ll have to move very swiftly to enact policies on how we’re going to deal with all those parking spaces and what we’re going to do, construction-wise, to ready that building,” said Commissioner David White.

He offered that the sale would include approximately 60 parking spaces in a lot between Second and Third streets and added that the ATM would remain for customers.

The commissioners would not, however, reveal the county entity that would be moving into the building as they have not discussed the details yet.

“We’re hoping to move another county agency that is currently paying to rent from a private entity,” explained Commissioner Rick Walters. “With those dollars that are going out now, we hope to be reimbursing us to pay for this — it should pay for itself in a short amount of time.”

Commissioner Ron Feathers said that since the county signed the lease for the rental property, they have the authority to make this purchase to move an agency into the building. There are currently three county agencies that rent, which are the Veterans Service Commission on Pike Street, the Public Defender’s Office at 200 Putnam St. and the Title Office in the Frontier Shopping Center.

“The money (to purchase the property) will come from the 1 percent permissive sales tax,” Feathers said. “I also want to add, we’re not moving into this blind. We’ve already had an architect look into whether or not it was even feasible to do what we want with the building — and it is.”

White said the purchase is part of a transition which will also see the office of the County Commissioners eventually move to Davis Avenue.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

¯ Joe Tucker and Eric Lambert from the City of Marietta Engineering Department met with the commissioners, County Engineer Roger Wright and the county’s legal counsel, Alison Cauthorn, to further discuss an easement that would be part of the city’s River Trail expansion.

The issue is regarding an easement along the outskirts of a county supply yard, part of the planned path of the River Trail extension to the Walmart shopping center. The city obtained an easement for the riverbank portion of the city’s engineering overflow area at Jefferson Street and below the plotted alley south of Pierce Street in 2011 when the connection of the trail out to the Walmart shopping plaza was originally a part of River Trail Phase III.

Cauthorn said the county would agree to most of the items in the proposal from City Law Director Paul Bertram but wants the city to recoup or reimburse to the county any costs incurred from straightening portions of the path to take less county property and making a ramp to the river ADA compliant. The county also wants to be part of the conversation with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the major funding partner. The county also wants a fence on the county’s western side adjacent property and for the property to revert back to its ownership in the case that the city no longer wishes to use it for the bike path.

“Once your revisions are formalized, I can request for city council to hold a special meeting to take this all back and look it over,” Tucker said. “I think we’re getting really close on this and I’d like to see us be able to work this all out.”

¯ The Washington-Morgan Community Action transportation services agency held a public hearing on whether or not to change the Saturday schedule for the Community Action Bus Line. Representatives Dawn Rauch and Kenny Vigneron said they have not heard from anyone regarding a proposal to change Saturday from fixed routes to deviated routes for riders who request transportation. In January and February, the CABL drivers picked up fewer than 50 riders for each month. The public comment period extends for 30 days from the public hearing. Anyone interested in commenting during this period is asked to contact Community Action at 740-373-7671.

What’s ahead

¯ Weekly commissioners meeting: March 8 at 9 a.m.

¯ Annual Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner: March 12 at 5 p.m.

¯ Monthly County Home meeting: March 13 at 8:30 a.m.

¯ Finance Committee: March 20 at 10 a.m.

¯ Public hearing for 2018 CHIP application: March 22 at 10 a.m.